The Sentinel-Record

Golf super league proposal resurfaces as McIlroy puts stock in his legacy


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory McIlroy returned to the site of his first PGA Tour victory and made it clear Wednesday that he is more interested in creating his place in history than chasing Saudi-backed money in a proposed super league.

Justin Thomas wasn’t far behind in that line of thinking.

The topic occupying most of the chatter at Quail Hollow Club ahead of the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip is renewed efforts by a “Super League Golf” to attract top players for a concept of team golf played around the world for massive riches.

The Daily Telegraph in London reported the league is prepared to offer fees ranging from $30 million to $50 million to marquee players, including Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose, to join a new circuit that would begin playing as early as September 2022.

“He has listened to their presentati­on, like all the other top players. No commitment whatsoever,” Johnson’s manager, David Winkle, said in a text.

The Telegraph said Phil Mickelson, who at age 50 is No. 115 in the world ranking, is being offered twice that much as the “de facto leader of the rebels.”

McIlroy, who turned 32 on Tuesday, was the first player to publicly oppose the new league more than a year ago. He has been elected chairman of the Player Advisory Council, meaning he will be the first foreign-born player to join the PGA Tour’s board of directors.

McIlroy referenced the failed attempt to create a European Super League in football, in which 12 clubs were founding members. The backlash was so strong that nine clubs — including all six from England — announced they would withdraw.

“People can see it for what is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that’s what you’re playing golf for is to make as much money as possible,” McIlroy said. “Totally fine. Then go and do that if that’s what makes you happy. But I think the top players in the game — I’m just speaking my own personal beliefs — I’m playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championsh­ips and to win the biggest tournament­s in the world.

“I’m very much against it. I don’t see why anyone would be for it.”

The topic became the focus of chatter at Quail Hollow Club, where the Wells Fargo Championsh­ip begins on Thursday with another strong field. The players

had a previously scheduled mandatory meeting on Tuesday night with Commission­er Jay Monahan.

According to several players who attended the meeting, Monahan reiterated what he told players more than a year ago when the proposed super league — then known as the Premier Golf League — made its first pitch: Players who join will be suspended from the PGA Tour and could be banned permanentl­y.

Still unclear is how this would affect the world ranking or invitation to the majors, even a spot in the Ryder Cup, because it is not known if any player has agreed to the money.

Thomas said he was unaware if the league invited him to join — if so, his manager hasn’t told him.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go because everybody feels differentl­y and everybody’s in different places in their career,” Thomas said. “For me, I personally am about being No. 1 in the world and winning as many majors as I can and winning as many tournament­s as I can and doing historical things on the PGA Tour.

“I feel like the next 10 years of my career could really be my prime and I want to take advantage of it here.”

Money has been at the forefront of discussion­s since Hideki Matsuyama left Augusta National with his Masters green jacket. The tour finally informed players two weeks ago of a ” Player Impact Program” worth $40 million that would be distribute­d to the top 10 players who move the needle in golf, based on metrics related to fan engagement.

The super league is aimed at rewarding the top players. Still, a $40 million bonus pool is miniscule compared with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, with assets of some $350 billion, a source of super league funding.

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